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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Daily Drift

Ain't that the truth ...!

Carolina Naturally is read in 194 countries around the world daily.
 
A random act of kindness ... !

Today is - World Kindness Day

 

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Today in History

1002 - English king Ethelred II launches massacre of Danish settlers
1775 - American Revolutionary forces capture Montreal
1789 - Ben Franklin writes "Nothing . . . certain but death & taxes"
1841 - James Braid first sees a demonstration of animal magnetism, which leads to his study of the subject he eventually calls hypnosis.
1843 - Mt Rainier in Washington State erupts
1851 - Telegraph connection between London-Paris linked
1865 - PT Barnum's New American museum opens in Bridgeport
1865 - US issues 1st gold certificates
1875 - Harvard-Yale game is 1st college football contest with uniforms
1895 - 1st shipment of canned pineapple from Hawaii
1907 - French cyclist Paul Cornu flies 1st helicopter (twin rotor)
1913 - 1st modern elastic brassiere patented by Mary Phelps Jacob
1916 - British offensive at Ancre Belgium
1920 - Hudson River frozen at Albany
1921 - "Sheik," silent film starring Rudolph Valentino, is released
1931 - Hattie Caraway (D-AK) appointed 1st US woman senator
1940 - Walt Disney's "Fantasia" released
1946 - 1st artificial snow produced from a natural cloud, Mt Greylock, MA
1952 - False fingernails 1st sold
1977 - Final Al Capp comic strip of "Li'l Abner" (1934-77)

Non Sequitur

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The Top 5 Most Expensive Teas In The World

Maybe you'll be entertaining a British government official one day, and they'll ask you for a spot of tea. You could give them just any old tea - but why not pander them with a $200 cup? And that's not even the most expensive tea on this list.

The repugicans Honor Our Veterans By Making Sure That They Are Hungry and Struggling

The repugicans have gone out of their way to keep America's Veterans in a struggle to find work after returning from war.…

Owe our veteransAmerica once felt enough respect and gratitude for the men and women who served in the Armed Services that it officially created a federal holiday on November 11th to honor the nation’s Veterans. Sadly, over the course of the past year America’s Veterans have not been honored by the repugican cabal, and given the opportunity to assist the men and women who unselfishly put their lives on the line to serve this nation, the repugican cabal has treated the nation’s Vets with the same blatant disregard for their general welfare as the rest of the population.  In fact, repugicans have gone out of their way to keep America’s Veterans in a struggle to find work after returning from war.
On October 13th at the Million Vets March in Washington, freak of nature Ted Cruz said, “Our veterans should be above political games. Veterans have proven they are not timid. And we will not be timid in calling out anybody that uses the military as pawns.” Obviously, Cruz is not about to call out his own party, or condemn their political games that have kept the unemployment rate for recent Veterans serving from 2001 to the present at 10.1% in September 2013, or decried  repugicans’ harsh cuts to SNAP (food stamps) that affect 57% of Vets under the age of 30 or the 9% who are over 60 years old. The idea of keeping Veterans hungry must be appealing to repugicans, but it pales in their drive to block any attempt to assist returning Veterans find employment.
It has been over a year since Senate repugicans blocked legislation to create a Veterans Job Corps that would have cost the nation a pittance because they claimed it was too pricey while they approved giving free taxpayer dollars to the oil industry in the form of subsidies. Prior to the repugican’s killing the $1 billion measure meant to provide employment for Veterans in conservation work, Veterans Affairs Department, police, and fire departments, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued an appeal to allow the bill to move forward. “Partisan bickering should never stand in the way of creating job opportunities for the New Greatest Generation, especially with a 10.1% unemployment rate.” As one of the Democrats sponsoring the Veterans Job Corps noted, “repugican opposition stemmed from refusal to support any initiative that originated in the White House,” that is precisely what Ted Cruz said repugicans would not be timid in calling out; using Veterans as political pawns.
The repugican blocking the legislation, Jeff Sessions, objected to the $1 billion program because although it was paid for, it would have pushed VA over the spending limits set by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Sessions lied and said he was just as concerned as anyone about Veterans unable to find work after returning from putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan and Iraq, but he simply could not comport adding $1 billion in spending to the Veterans Administration budget for 2013 unless they were able to cut funding from some other part of the VA.  Session’s lack of interest in helping Veterans find work is typical of repugicans, and it was just a little over two months ago that  teabag  Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint said providing healthcare for Veterans was “un-American” and “built on principles of Socialism and collectivism.”
It is bad enough repugicans blocked a jobs program for Veterans to keep them out of work, but they also are keeping nearly a million veterans and their families hungry by refusing to act and restore $5 billion in food stamp funding that ran out of money on November 1st. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), “in any given month, a total of 900,000 veterans nationwide lived in households that relied on SNAP [food stamps] to provide food for their families.” It is likely that repugicans hold America’s heroes in the same contempt as they do the rest of Americans struggling to eat, but one wonders if they would dare tell a Veteran to their face that they were guilty of “Fraud, Absolute 100 percent, all of it is fraud. There’s fraud all through that.” Or perhaps they would tell the men and women who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country and desperate for a job “that if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat,” or that withholding food assistance to unemployed Vets is meant to “advance the dignity of work.”
This past weekend, three Veterans struggling to find work or barely surviving in part-time jobs earning minimum wages told this author they would love nothing more than to stand close to a Republican when they said providing healthcare, or food stamps, to Veterans was un-American. The Vets, all in their late twenties, were incensed that after going to war and risking their lives and seeing billions spent on creating jobs and feeding poor Afghanis, repugicans had to temerity call them, or any struggling American lazy, undeserving of help, and in need of a work ethic.
The repugicans dare not say their disregard for Veterans is due to fiscal responsibility, because as Jon Soltz of VoteVets.org saidthere are pricey Pentagon projects the defense department doesn’t even want that Congress insists on funding,” and it is due to repugicans’ tendency to enrich the defense industry while keep Veterans unemployed, hungry, and often homeless. America’s Veterans do not necessarily want strangers thanking them for their service; they served out of a sense of duty and patriotism. They want what every American wants; a good job, adequate healthcare, and security for their families. Unfortunately but they will never get any of those as long as repugicans are allowed to block job programs, cut food stamps for those unable to find living-wage jobs, or treat Veterans like lazy undeserving moochers.
Instead of thanking America’s Veterans, the people of this nation must resolve to throw out repugicans who love young men and women they can send to war for oil and to profit the defense industry, and then keep them unemployed by either killing jobs or worse; playing politics by blocking Veterans jobs programs because they initiated in the Obama White House. If any American feels they have to thank the men and women who served their country voluntarily and at great risk of bodily harm, or worse, death, do not hesitate to tell them there are millions of Americans fighting to help them find good jobs and provide for their families’ by eliminating the only obstacle to their success; repugicans who dishonor Veterans’ service by treating them with the same contempt as they do the rest of the people. A heartfelt thank you to America’s Veterans who deserve better than to live in a nation that keeps them jobless, hungry, and all too often homeless.

When truth does not matter

Atheist 'mega-churches' take root across US, world

An attendee grabs a brochure at the Sunday Assembly, a godless congregation founded by British comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles. A new mega-church movement is generating buzz from London to Los Angeles, but this time it's a belief in non-belief that's drawing crowds on Sunday mornings. Sunday Assembly began in London in January and soared in popularity among atheists looking for a place to air their views with other like-minded people, and now the concept has taken hold across the pond. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church. Several hundred people, including families with small children, packed in for more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational talk and some quiet reflection. The only thing missing was god.
Nearly three dozen gatherings dubbed "atheist mega-churches" by supporters and detractors have sprung up around the U.S. and Australia — with more to come — after finding success in Great Britain earlier this year. The movement fueled by social media and spearheaded by two prominent British comedians is no joke.
On Sunday, the inaugural Sunday Assembly in Los Angeles attracted several hundred people bound by their belief in non-belief. Similar gatherings in San Diego, Nashville, New York and other U.S. cities have drawn hundreds of atheists seeking the camaraderie of a congregation without religion or ritual.
The founders, British duo Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, are currently on a tongue-in-cheek "40 Dates, 40 Nights" tour around the U.S. and Australia to drum up donations and help launch new Sunday Assemblies. They hope to raise more than $800,000 that will help atheists launch their pop-up congregations around the world. So far, they have raised about $50,000.
They don't bash believers but want to find a new way to meet likeminded people, engage in the community and make their presence more visible in a landscape dominated by faith.
Jones got the first inkling for the idea while leaving a christmas carol concert six years ago.
"There was so much about it that I loved, but it's a shame because at the heart of it, it's something I don't believe in," Jones said. "If you think about church, there's very little that's bad. It's singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people — and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?"
The movement dovetails with new studies that show an increasing number of Americans are drifting from any religious affiliation.
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released a study last year that found 20 percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15 percent in the last five years. Pew researchers stressed, however, that the category also encompassed majorities of people who said they believed in god but had no ties with organized religion and people who consider themselves "spiritual" but not "religious."
Sunday Assembly — whose motto is Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More — taps into that universe of people who left their faith but now miss the community church provided, said Phil Zuckerman, a professor of secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont.
It also plays into a feeling among some atheists that they should make themselves more visible. For example, last December, an atheist in Santa Monica created an uproar — and triggered a lawsuit — when he set up a godless display amid christian nativity scenes that were part of a beloved, decades-old tradition.
"In the U.S., there's a little bit of a feeling that if you're not religious, you're not patriotic. I think a lot of secular people say, 'Hey, wait a minute. We are charitable, we are good people, we're good parents and we are just as good citizens as you and we're going to start a church to prove it," said Zuckerman. "It's still a minority, but there's enough of them now."
That impulse, however, has raised the ire of those who have spent years pushing back against the idea that atheism itself is a religion.
"The idea that you're building an entire organization based on what you don't believe, to me, sounds like an offense against sensibility," said Michael Luciano, a self-described atheist who was raised Roman Catholic but left when he became disillusioned.
"There's something not OK with appropriating all of this religious language, imagery and ritual for atheism," said Luciano, who blogged about the movement at the site policymic.com.
That sentiment didn't seem to detract from the excitement Sunday at the inaugural meeting in Los Angeles.
Hundreds of atheists and atheist-curious packed into a Hollywood auditorium for a boisterous service filled with live music, moments of reflection, an "inspirational talk" about forgotten — but important — inventors and scientists and some stand-up comedy.
During the service, attendees stomped their feet, clapped their hands and cheered as Jones and Evans led the group through rousing renditions of "Lean on Me," ''Here Comes the Sun" and other hits that took the place of gospel songs. Congregants dissolved into laughter at a get-to-know-you game that involved clapping and slapping the hands of the person next to them and applauded as members of the audience spoke about community service projects they had started in LA.
At the end, volunteers passed cardboard boxes for donations as attendees mingled over coffee and pastries and children played on the floor.
For atheist Elijah Senn, the morning was perfect.
"I think the image that we have put forward in a lot of ways has been a scary, mean, we want to tear down the walls, we want to do destructive things kind of image is what a lot of people have of us," he said. "I'm really excited to be able to come together and show that it's not about destruction. It's about making things and making things better."

The U.S. was not founded on christiantiy, no matter what wingnuts try to tell you

Is the NSA ready to adopt (and adapt to) its real mission?

by Myrddin
  
Plenty has been said on what the NSA has done to break the Internet. They have attacked the Internet fabric at every level, they have collected data indiscriminately and illegally.
The NSA lawyers claim otherwise of course, and I know that in the modern US army there is nothing that happens without the sanction of a lawyer. The guy sitting in the seat next to a drone pilot isn’t the co-pilot, he is a lawyer and his function is to tell the drone pilot whether his actions are legal according to the law of war. Or rather, that is the theory. The real role of the lawyer is similar to the role of a priest at an execution: to absolve the state from the sin of the act they are about to commit. John Yoo immunized the members of the Bush cabinet against prosecution for war crimes and now the lower ranks demand the same protection.
Among the spurious legal theories concocted by the surveillance state is the notion that bulk interception of all traffic is not a ‘search,’ provided that nobody looks at the actual data without first getting a court warrant. According to this theory, the NSA can put me under Internet surveillance 24 hours a day for twenty years, collect every message I send, whether public or private, and do all of this without any court authority whatsoever. They can perform surveillance on the entire country just in case someone later is suspected of being a terrorist.
The term terrorist is of course a notoriously fuzzy one. It is never applied to heads of state, unless they are officially enemies. So General Pinochet can murder tens of thousands of people without getting slapped with the ‘terrorist’ label, and Saddam Hussein can start a war that kills over a million and still be considered a good guy right up to the point where he threatens the West’s oil supply, when it is suddenly remembered that he is a monster.

The less frequently asked question is ‘why?’

If the NSA really believed that what they were doing was essential to national security, why would they spend so much time boasting about it and stroking each other’s egos?
It is almost a quarter century since the fall of the Berlin wall. US and NATO security needs have changed dramatically since, but the obsession with collecting tanks and planes and ships continues. The US military is by far the country’s biggest jobs program.
While the men and women in uniform are always paraded, they’re not the real beneficiaries of the national security state. It is the ‘defense’ contractors that make the fortunes, and they buy up politicians in both parties to keep the cash spigot open full. Congress believes that there isn’t enough money for food stamps, or children’s nutrition programs, or Medicare or Social Security for that matter, but they just voted to buy yet more tanks that even the Pentagon says they don’t need.
Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden
Reading through the Snowden documents on the NSA budget, I was rather shocked to see that the rationale the NSA leadership gave for increasing the NSA budget was based on the age and demographic profile of NSA employees, rather than an assessment of actual national security needs.
Unlike most military institutions, a majority of NSA employees are civilian, about 80%. But most of the management positions are for military officers. As in the career civil service, the majority of the civilian employees know that however well they do their job, virtually all the top positions are reserved for appointments from a different candidate pool.
As in the civil service, there is a culture clash between the leadership and the bulk of the employees whose career ambitions are severely truncated. But unlike a political appointee, whose career horizons are rarely longer than the next election cycle, US military officers are expected, indeed required, to be ambitious for promotion. Officers who don’t make their promotions on time are required to retire. All it takes to end a military career is one poor performance review, one reprimand.
The na├»ve would imagine that such a scheme would ensure that every officer is anxious to do their job. But since an officer’s performance review is written by their commanding officer, the ambitious officer is better advised to help his commanding officer convince his own superior that he is doing his job well.
So now imagine what happens when the officer commanding the NSA gives the order that the agency is going be the biggest baddest espionage agency it can be, collecting all the information it can, through all the means available – the order that Gen. Alexander gave when he took over the leadership of the NSA from Hayden.
Everyone in the agency chain of command is suddenly on notice that they must deliver the intelligence goods, or start looking for work in the private sector, or at the very least appear to be delivering the goods. Preferably in some really impressive Powerpoint slides that will be left on an internal sharepoint server run by a 29 year old sysadmin with a girlfriend who works as a stripper (sorry, pole dancer).

NSA is already almost certainly penetrated by every major foreign power

And don’t forget that any intelligence agency that can be penetrated and rolled in 18 months by a 29 year old working without accomplices is almost certainly penetrated by every major foreign power with the inclination to do so (remembering of course that many powers may have recently acquired the inclination to do so by reading the Snowden data dump).
People in US intelligence circles frequently ask why China spends so much time and effort trying to steal US industrial secrets. Well maybe they have penetrated the NSA top to bottom and have to create a cover story to conceal the origin of the terabytes of data they are pulling from the NSA feeds every day.
The Snowden documents are themselves a form of intelligence, albeit not one the NSA intended to produce. When reading such documents I first ask why the document was written, who the intended audience is and what the intended change in their behavior was. The NSA documents are for me an illustration of the boasting generals problem, rather than the more thoroughly researched Byzantine generals problem.
Did the NSA really introduce moles into the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to subvert and disrupt the standards process? I suspect not, but they certainly produced documents that strongly imply that they did.
What sort of tradecraft produces codenames like PRISM and MUSCULAR? None that I know. PRISM immediately suggests splitting light ,which immediately suggests tapping some sort of fiber optic. These are not the type of names that are chosen to obscure the purpose of a program, they are chosen to boost the egos of the generals who direct them.

NSA 2.0 must become NSA 3.0

Understanding why the NSA acted as it did does not make their actions any better. They have committed egregious criminal acts for which there will almost certainly be no criminal accountability. They have acted without any discipline or self control.
The last time the NSA faced a situation like the present one is when the Church Committee tried to assess the damage caused when US intelligence agencies ran amok for two decades, hijacking democratic governments and replacing them with brutal dictators.
By the time the NSA had recovered, electronic cipher machines had replaced the Enigma-style electromechanical schemes. Virtually all government communications were now beyond reach. What saved the NSA from irrelevance was the rise of the Internet — and NSA 2.0 was born, gleefully hoovering up all the data it could from the electronic commons.
What was missed in the change of targets was the fact that the Internet is not merely a communications medium, it is now the medium for virtually all international and national change. The Internet is a critical infrastructure, a fact that the NSA itself acknowledges. Yet the NSA was attacking that infrastructure.
NSA 2.0 is or will shortly be dead. Much of the NSA’s information gathering capability is going to be lost as pervasive encryption replaces pervasive surveillance. More importantly, foreign governments are going to be attacking the US Internet with the same techniques and tools.
I don’t know what shape NSA 3.0 should take, I am an engineer, not a manager. But I do know what its mission should be: To protect US and allied information systems from attack. All else must be secondary.

NYC moves to vacate judge's stop-frisk decisions

Attorneys for New York City have asked a federal appeals court to vacate a judge's orders that require the police department to change its stop-and-frisk practice that critics argue unfairly targets minorities. The city said in filings Saturday with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin's orders should be thrown out largely for the same reasons an appeals court panel gave in staying her decision, pending an appeal.
The panel, which also removed her from the case, said she misapplied a related case ruling that allowed her to take the stop-and-frisk case and she gave media interviews during the trial, calling her impartiality into question.
Advocates for changing stop and frisk blistered at the city's request to vacate the orders.

Ziggy

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Why Humble Guys Win at Work*

by Mike Darling
A new study reveals that personality traits like humility and honesty are the most valued among employers—and may lead to more raises and promotions.
(When he learned of said study, one high-level editor suggested I blog—honestly—about the state of my supervisor’s hair follicles. I declined, humbly, and will be watching my paycheck next week.)
In the study, researchers at Baylor University surveyed 269 employees and found that people who self-identified as humble and honest often received the most favorable remarks from their higher-ups. Specifically, those employees were known to display qualities like generosity, fairness, sincerity, modesty, and—we can safely assume—no blood relation to Dick Cheney.
“Our best guess is that some combination of personal integrity and being down-to-earth increases likeability,” says Wade Rowatt, Ph.D., of Baylor University, who supervised the study. “Arrogance and dishonesty, in contrast, is often socially repulsive and that could lead to negative job performance ratings.” On the other hand, it can be just the thing to score you millions of Twitter followers in just 24 hours. (Duh, winning.)
The Baylor team primarily studied people who worked in the health care field—and admitted that some fields (like social media) might actually be a good fit for more narcissistic types. “We believed that honesty and humility would be really important in jobs where people needed to play a care-giving role,” says Megan Johnson, the study’s lead author. “As such, health care workers, especially those working with difficult clientele, seemed to be great for examining this trait.”
With the notable exception of Dr. Gregory House, it’s easy to see why the most popular doctors also happen to be those who don’t convey the impression they might secretly want to play soccer with your spleen. But conclusions like these don’t just apply to hospital wards. They apply to everything. We crave authenticity from every person who wields a certain element of power and influence over our lives, whether it’s our doctor, our professor, or boss, or our senator, as we reported prior to the 2008 election.
We look for authenticity in a potential lover, and in our closest friends, too. It’s why we actually happy, in a twisted way, when John Krasinski blew us off a while back. His publicist could have made up an excuse—but she didn’t. Instead Krasinski called, apologizing up and down for leaving the writer hanging out to dry. His reason: The dude couldn’t miss his fantasy football draft. That’s honest—and ultimately, it just made us like an already likable guy even more.
For the same reasons, we listed humility among the traits every man should have—along with patience, respect, and open-mindedness. Know which ones aren’t on that list? Agreeableness and extroversion—two of the other links the Baylor researchers explored, but didn’t show a strong connection to good reviews.
Our bosses, consciously or not, are not just rewarding qualities like honesty and humility—they’re rewarding good character.
On that note, an open letter to my editor: Sorry this was late, boss. Your edits were graceful, perfectly timed, and well-executed—you know, unlike your jump shot. Plus, your fly is down.

We All Start Out As Scientists, But Some of Us Forget

Flashlight Powered by Body Heat

A flashlight powered by your body temperature would be really useful for power outages or camping. Ann Makosinski, a 15-year-old student from Victoria, British Columbia, developed a flashlight that does just that.
In her research, Ann learned about Peltier tiles. Peltier devices — devices that produce electricity when one side of the tile is heated while the other side is cooled. What better way to generate power? And what better outlet for Ann's device than a flashlight?

After reworking the voltage and circuitry, Ann was able to create a light powered only by her own body heat. Next, she figured out how to use her idea to power a flashlight. Using a simple flashlight, the STEM-savvy teen cut away the plastic exterior so that the flashlight user's hand would come in direct contact with the built-in Peltier tiles. And just like that — she had light!
Makosinski took her project to the Google Science Fair, and was the winner in the 15-16-old division.

Believe it or not

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Is PTSD Contagious?

Katie, Caleb, and Brannan Vines

Possible Cure for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Deafness caused by loud noise, infection, and toxic drugs may soon be a thing of the past.
Scientists have discovered a drug that restores sensory hair cells which are responsible for hearing loss. Codenamed LY411575, the drug works by suppressing proteins called Notch — which prevent stem cells from becoming new sensory hair cells within the cochlea, the auditory area of the inner ear.”
Cochlea-crosssection
The drug was successful in restoring hearing to mice that had lost their ability hear due to loud noise exposure.
“The significance of the study is that hearing loss is a huge problem affecting 250 million worldwide,” lead researcher Dr. Albert Edge of Harvard Medical School said.

Brainstem abnormalities found in ‘SIDS’ infants



Investigators at Boston Children’s Hospital report that infants dying suddenly and unexpectedly, in both safe and unsafe sleep environments, have underlying brainstem abnormalities and are not all normal prior to death. The researchers also point […]

Cause of genetic disorder found in ‘dark matter’ of DNA



For the first time, scientists have used new technology which analyses the whole genome to find the cause of a genetic disease in what was previously referred to as “junk DNA”. Pancreatic agenesis results in […]

A Cop's Worst Nightmare

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The hazards of Moon dust

Despite all the attention lavished on Moon dust, we still don't know what effect the stuff has on human lungs ... which is kind of a big deal, considering the fact that the dust has busted through every vacuum seal its ever faced. And eaten through layers of moon boots. Basically, you can imagine Moon dust as those tiny shards that get left on the floor when you break a glass and inevitably end up embedded in your foot four days later. At The New Yorker, Kate Green writes about efforts to better understand the effects of Moon dust on various materials and how engineers are trying to find new ways to control it before humans return to the lunar surface.

A Century-old Subterranean Garden

Forestiere Underground Gardens features sunken gardens and underground rooms from ten to 22 feet below the land's surface. And it was all the work of one man, with just a pick, shovel, and wheelbarrow! Baldasare Forestiere immigrated to America in 1901 and bought 80 acres near Fresno, California. The land turned out not to be great for farming, so he started digging -and kept digging for 40 years to create his personal Shangri-la.
Forestiere built nearly 100 rooms, passageways and courtyards with circular holes above to allow a variety of plants and fruit-bearing trees to take root in large planters and protrude through the openings at ground level. Over a period of 40 years, he excavated oasis spans over 10 acres (all in his spare time).
When Forestiere died in 1946, the gardens, which included his own underground living quarters, passed to his descendants, and are open for tours today. See plenty more pictures of the gardens and underground home at Messy Nessy Chic.

Daily Comic Relief

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Studying chimpanzee fauna isotopes to learn about prehistoric food sources

New research led by UNM Assistant Professor of Anthropology Sherry V. Nelson examines carbon and oxygen stable isotopes in the tooth enamel from a chimpanzee community to understand the environment of fossil apes and early humans. Nelson's research, “Chimpanzee fauna isotopes provide new interpretations of fossil ape and hominin ecologies,” was recently released and is available here.
Studying chimpanzee fauna isotopes to learn about prehistoric food sources
Kibale Chimp in a canopy [Credit: Ronan Donovan]
UNM Anthropology Professor Martin Muller and Harvard Human Evolutionary Biology Professor Richard Wrangham co-direct the Kibale Chimpanzee Project, a long-term field study of the behavior, ecology, and physiology of wild chimpanzees in Uganda.  When animals die in the forest, their skeletons are preserved for researchers like Nelson.

Nelson wants to eventually look at the diet of hominids to explore what they ate and how they were able to thrive and spread.  At UNM Nelson teaches Human Origins, Evolution and Human Emergence, Paleoanthropology, Human Behavioral Evolution, Primate Evolution, and a lab course in paleoecology.

Elephants Never Forget

The Touching Legacy of Tamil Nadu Conservationist Mark Davidar
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The elephants of India's Cheetal Walk are surprisingly calm around humans, and it's all down to the lasting legacy of conservationist Mark Davidar. More

A new scorpion species from ancient Lycia

Scientists discover and describe a new species of scorpion, Euscorpius lycius, coming from the area of ancient Lycia, nowadays the regions of the Mugla and Antalya Provinces in Southwestern Turkey. With the new discovery, the scorpions from this genus found in the country go up to a total of five known species. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.
A new scorpion species from ancient Lycia
This image shows a female Euscorpius lycius
[Credit: Ersen Ayd?n Yagmur]
Euscorpius is a genus of scorpions, commonly called small wood-scorpions. As their name suggest these scorpions don't impress with a large size, the biggest representative being around 5 cm long. The group is widespread in North Africa and across Europe. Euscorpius scorpions are relatively harmless, with poison that has effects similar to a mosquito bite.
A new scorpion species from ancient Lycia
This image shows a living male Euscorpius lycius in its natural environment
[Credit: Ersen Ayd?n Yagmur]
The new species is named after the historical region of Ancient Lycia, which is referenced in Egyptian and Ancient Greek myths. Like the mystical history of the region the new species is rather secretive and can be found mainly in pine at night hidden away in pine forests, crawling on rocks or sitting on stone garden walls. All localities where the species was found were humid and cool, with calcareous stones covered with moss.
A new scorpion species from ancient Lycia
This image shows the natural habitat of the new species near the Faralya Village, Turkey
[Credit: Ersen Ayd?n Yagmur]
The new scorpion is a relatively small representative, reaching a size ranging between two and two and a half centimeters. The color of the adult representatives is pale, between brown and reddish, with pedipalps, or claws, usually darker than the rest of the body.

"A total of 26 specimens belonging to the new species were collected from Antalya and Mugla Province, in the south-west of Turkey." explains Dr. Yagmur, the lead author of the study. "Further studies are in progress to understand the quantity and distribution of the different species and populations of the genus Euscorpius in Turkey and their relationship with the Greek populations."

Autopsy of a sea monster

You've seen the oarfish — the 18-foot-long, serpent-like beastie that washed up on a California beach. Now, tag along with the scientists from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center as they dissect that monster ... a "once in a lifetime fish".

Snakes Control Blood Flow to Boost Vision

Snakes have infamously poor eyesight, but for at least one species there is a way to improve their vision in a pinch.

X-ray of a hammerhead shark

Last week, scientists described a new species of hammerhead shark, the Carolina hammerhead. Though slightly smaller than the scalloped hammerhead species it was previously thought to be a part of, the Carolina hammerhead was ID'd as something different with the help of DNA samples, not visual descriptions. This, courtesy shark blogger David Shiffman, is the Carolina hammerhead's head, in beautiful x-ray vision.

Animal Pictures